June 27th, 2016 11:42 EST
Face of Defense: Soldier Earns Spot on Olympic Air Rifle Team
A fourth soldier from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit is joining his teammates at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August after he qualified at the Olympic air rifle trials held here June 3-5.
Army Spc. Dan Lowe, an Olympia, Washington, native, earned one of two available air rifle seats on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team on June 5 during the trials. The day also was the second anniversary of his assignment to the marksmanship unit.
Three other USAMU marksmen have already taken their places on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team. They are sergeants first class Michael McPhail of Darlington, Wisconsin, for 50-meter prone rifle; and in double trap, a shotgun discipline, Josh Richmond of Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania, and Glenn Eller of Katy, Texas.
There was an awful lot of pressure on this match, " Lowe said. I spent a lot of time on positive thoughts; the confidence you take to the line will make or break you. "
Lowe competes in three disciplines -- small-bore, 50-meter prone rifle, small-bore, three-position rifle and air rifle -- but excels in air rifle, said his coach, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, a four-time Olympian from Omaha, Nebraska.
He said Lowe has the confidence needed to win in a tight situation.
Lowe`s strength is what he demonstrated today, " Parker said. He is absolutely fearless; he can go into a competition and shoot a good score and come away with a medal. He thrives on the energy and the spotlight. "
A Roller-Coaster Ride
Yet, the three-day competition was somewhat of a roller-coaster ride for Lowe. After the first day of competition, he was in second place, but seemed to falter on the second day, finishing in sixth.
On the final day, however, Lowe roared back to life and was in second place behind Lucas Kozeniesky, a U.S. Shooting Team member, before going into the finals.
Kozeniesky was unbeatable at 10 points ahead of Lowe -- competitors can only earn a maximum of eight points in the finals -- and had already earned one of the two air rifle seats.
That left second-place Lowe fighting for the final air rifle seat with two other shooters -- Army Spc. Bryant Wallizer, a World Class Athlete Program soldier, and U.S. Team member Dempster Christenson -- who were just a few points behind him.
Lowe persevered and finished in first place, securing his victory and the second air rifle seat, while Wallizer finished in eighth and Christenson ended up in third.
The second day was a little rough, but this is the Olympic trials and a lot of things can happen, so you do the very best you can and that is what he did, " Parker said about Lowe. He shot a world-class final today, and you just can`t ask for more. "
Marksmanship Unit Performs Well
Army staff sergeants George Norton of Salinas, Kansas, air rifle; and Greg Markowski of Sycow, Poland, air pistol, also competed in the Air Olympic trials. Although neither earned enough points to win seats on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team, Norton said he was extremely proud of his teammate Lowe and of his performance.
[Lowe] didn`t take anything for granted, and his scores were excellent, " Norton said. [He] came into day three and he fought hard, and he shot an amazing score and then he won the final. Anyone else might not have been able to do that, but [he] came back. "
Norton won the men`s three-position rifle event during the 2016 Small-bore Olympic trials April 1-8, but because there were no U.S. seats available in that discipline, he couldn`t join the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team for that victory.
I am very proud of the results I had in the men`s three-position and without the support of Sergeant First Class Jason Parker, the International Team, the USAMU Custom Firearms Shop, the USAMU and the Army, I would not be where I am today, " Norton said.
Army Olympians provide a direct connection between the Army and the American people through competitions, demonstrations, outreach and engagements on the local, regional and national levels.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia